What is the government's vision for education? Funding cuts, endless testing and zero-hours contracts for school staff'

30th March 2017 at 16:21
One leading educationalist attempts to distill the government's vision for education, teachers and pupils

As any school leader knows, there is almost inevitably a question at any headship interview about "vision".

"Please share your vision for the school, or a subject area…or whatever." 

What a wonderful word.

Perhaps now would be a time to review the government's vision for education based on what we have seen day-in-day-out over the last few years.

First, the vision appears to be based on cuts. In fact, cutting education until it bleeds. This, as we know, is at a time when pupil numbers are rocketing and pressures we all face are ratcheting.

Second, the vision demands that we must test children to their metaphorical death.

Third, an accountability body that does little or nothing to support the system.

Fourth, the vision is to not have any vision, to not have any belief in the system being run by people who know anything about education, to not have faith in leaders.

So where will this vision take our education system, beyond the current crises in funding, morale and recruitment?

I believe this vision will lead us to a place where universal free education for all is a distant memory. Instead our children will receive a state-provided basic entitlement. Parents can then pay for anything additional.

In my crystal ball, I also see the creation of the "Education Lotto", every week supporting desperate schools up and down the country.

In its murky interior, I can also just make out the widespread use of zero-hours contracts for support staff and rocketing MAT CEO pay.

Many will consider this farfetched. But before our very eyes we can see the education system moving in the direction of this vision. Schools are laying off teachers and support staff in order to balance the books. We have a curriculum reducing daily – almost to the point of basic entitlement. And teachers are leaving in droves.

In truth, the word "vision" has never been one of my favourites, but before this particular vision becomes a reality we need our government to do one simple thing: listen to the profession.

Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsteds were "outstanding" across all categories

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